Michigan Association of School Administrators

Your Success. Our Passion.

Member Blogs

Blog Authors

David Britton, Godfrey-Lee
Rich Franklin, Athens
Scot Graden, Saline
Tony Habra, Paw Paw
Jerry Jennings, MASA
Michele Lemire, Escanaba
Vickie Markavitch, Oakland
Steve Matthews, Novi
Mike Paskewicz, Northview

MASA members: If you have a blog that you would like us to link please contact pmarrah@gomasa.org

Thanksgiving 2014

Written by Tony Habra on Nov 25, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I wanted to take the occasion of this holiday to say thank you. 

Thank you to the central office and building secretarial staff.  The job these ladies do goes unnoticed and unappreciated far too often.  I watch them come in early and stay late even as the number of reports and requirements foisted upon them increases each year.  Still we all get our paychecks on time, the bills get paid and the deadlines get met.  Addresses get updated, parents get smiled at (no matter their disposition) and administrators (especially me) get saved.  They are the face of our district even as they are the educational infrastructure that supports it and I am thankful.

Thank you to the transportation department.  They are one of the unsung heroes of our school district.  They have 60+ students in a confined space with no supervisory help while dealing with weather, road conditions and other drivers who don’t always stop.  They set the tone for the students as they start their day and are the last educator our students see as they head home.  They help shape our students and I am thankful.

Thank you to the cafeteria people.  The magic they work while still staying in the mandated nutritional guidelines is nothing short of astounding.  The food is tasty and nutritious and may be the only food some of our students can rely on.  They work very hard to make the cafeteria a welcoming place and fight the ridiculous stereotypes of the “lunch lady” we see in the mainstream media every day.  Without their work we would not be able to educate our students at all and I am thankful.

Thank you to our maintenance, custodial and operations department.  They keep our walkways safe, our buildings warm and our floors and hallways clean.  They are the reason we have working pencil sharpeners, doors that unlock and lock properly and lights that come on when we flip the switch.  Their hard work helps our students feel safe and secure and help make certain the basic needs of our students are met.  They make certain of the space we need to educate our students and I am thankful.

Thank you to the board of education and administrators.  Their leadership is without peer.  Their ability to act as shield, mediator, prime target, and first learner/first teacher in their building and/or department is what helps us navigate through the turbulence of outside edicts and shrinking resources.  As the world changes, they remain steadfast in their determination to keep our students safe and provide needed support to all the other educators in the district and I am thankful.

Thank you to the teachers, counselors, coaches, volunteers, PTO members and para-professionals.  These are the people who spend the most time with our students at school.  They act not only as first line educators but as nurses, therapists, behavior modifiers, politicians and second parents.  They work long hours beyond required student contact time, attend night events, reflect on what went well and modify, adapt and remain flexible in a job subject to the whims of politicians working to paint them as anything less than the heroes they are.  They touch and shape lives of students every single day and I am thankful.

Finally, thank you to our parents, guardians, and community.  We are able to do our job because of their commitment to our district and trust in our ability to keep their children safe while educating and preparing them to be College, Career and Community…Ready!  We love, support and care about all our students, but never any more than the parents and guardians who hand over their children each day.  They put their faith in us and that is a responsibility we are proud to bear.  For this, I am thankful.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


Foster Homes Needed

Written by Michele Lemire on Nov 24, 2014
I was recently notified of a dire need for foster families in our area. If this is something you might consider, please see the notice below from the Delta County Department of Human Services. Thank you!
ATTENTION:  Delta County and the State of Michigan continue to have a significant need for licensed foster homes for children who have been abused or neglected, removed from their parents’ homes and placed into foster care.  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact:
Grant ZiemsChildren Service SpecialistDelta County Department of Human Services305 Ludington St.Escanaba, MI 49829Phone: 906-290-2135Email: ziemsg@michigan.gov

Finishing second

Written by Steve Matthews on Nov 23, 2014
I stood in the interview room. On my right, the coach spoke to a group of reporters. 
Directly in front of me stood a circle of fifteen girls. Each one a Novi High School student. Each one a member of the Novi High School volleyball team.
Now the team stood, arms encircled one another. Heartbroken. Tears filled their eyes. 
Just minutes before these Novi High School volleyball players had lost in the 5th and deciding set of the Michigan High School Athletic Association state championship game. Down two sets to none, these girls won two sets in a row to force the fifth and deciding set.
Just a night before the girls had found themselves in the same situation. Down two sets to none, they faced the task of winning three straight sets if they wanted to advance. Amazingly, thrillingly they did.
Then less than twenty-four hours later, they faced the same situation. And it appeared they might pull it off one more time.
But they didn't.
And now, in front of me, I saw a team smiling, crying, holding on to each other.
They were not champions. Instead they finished second.
The point of sports is to win. In our society finishing second is frowned upon. Champions are celebrated. Those that finish second are forgotten.
But I am here to suggest that the point of high school sports is about more than winning.
Every team wants to win. Every coach wants to win. The sacrifice, the sweat, the time is all given in an effort to win. 
Winning is the point.
But, in high school, I would submit that the point of athletics is winning plus . . .
Plus helping our students build character. 
Plus developing tenacity, grit, and perseverance.
Plus building an understanding in our students of how to depend on teammates and how to be a teammate.
Plus creating in our students deeply passionate connections with others.
Plus learning how to support others with your presence, with your voice, with your talent.
Plus learning what it takes to grow, improve, and develop talent.
These young ladies wanted to win. They did everything they could to finish as champions. 
But, my guess is, these young ladies will remember the lessons that they learned that go beyond winning.
Even though they finished second.

Jeb Bush's Misguided View of Education Reform

Written by David Britton on Nov 23, 2014
Jeb Bush's opening address to National Summit on Education Reform | Tampa Bay Times

Education reform is about renewing this country. It is about protecting and promoting the right to rise. We all know the challenge we face: Schools run by entrenched monopolies, more intent on serving the adults who work there than the kids who learn there. What he doesn't mention is that he's for schools run by entrenched corporations, more intent on enriching the CEO's who run them than the kids who learn there.

#FutureReady Requires a "National Highway Program" to Ensure Internet Connectivity for Every School

Written by David Britton on Nov 23, 2014
Implied within the Future Ready District Pledge that has now been signed by over 1,200 superintendents across the country is the necessity of ensuring every school and every student has access to high-speed Internet connectivity. Without it, much of the seven commitments contained in the pledge have little chance of being successful.

I was somewhat taken back by President Obama's claim during our session with him that less than two out of every five schools have access to high-speed broadband Internet.
Right now, fewer than 40 percent of public schools have high-speed Internet in their classrooms — less than half. That’s not good, since we invented the Internet.  That’s not good. It means that in most American schools, teachers cannot use the cutting-edge software and programs that are available today. They literally don’t have the bandwidth.I’ve said before, in a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee the least we can do is expect that our schools are properly wired.  Looking back at his ConnectED plan released two years ago, the goal is for 99% of schools to be connected within five years. Given that we're less than three years from his self-imposed deadline, I'd say we have a lot of work to do as a nation to achieve that goal.

During the President's remarks, he noted that several other countries are substantially outpacing us in providing high-speed connectivity even at speeds many times higher than we experience in the U.S.  Susan Crawford, law professor and telecommunications policy expert, makes the claim that, "(I)n cities like Seoul and Stockholm, high-speed, high-capacity networks are taken for granted. 'It really is astonishing what's going on in America,' she says. 'We're falling way behind in the pack of developed nations when it comes to high-speed Internet access, capacity and prices.'"

The blog site Speed Matters argues that by falling behind in high-speed connectivity, we're doing damage to our economy at a level that may be difficult to overcome if as a nation we don't take positive action soon. Specifically regarding education, the site claims:
High speed Internet enhances every level of education from kindergarten through high school to college to graduate school. Advances in information and communications technology means that education is no longer confined to the classroom. New broadband-enabled educational tools allow for remote collaboration among fellow students on projects, videoconferences with teachers and real-time video exploration of faraway areas. The educational advantage possible with high speed Internet has become indispensable to students preparing to enter the 21st Century workforce. Those students with limited or no access in their formative elementary school years are falling behind. Computer skills must go beyond technical competency, to include higher-level skills such as critical thinking and problem solving as well as the creative use of technology. The earlier every student in America is connected to high speed Internet, the brighter our country’s future will be.So it seems clear to me after spending time with the President, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and high-level administration folks this past week, a national effort on par with Dwight D. Eisenhower's federal highway act is likely the only way we're going to catch up, ensuring every school and community is connect to the high-speed Internet highway. In a special message to Congress on February 22, 1955, President Eisenhower noted that:
Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast system of interconnected highways criss-crossing the Country and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to the north and south. Together, the uniting forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear--United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.One can easily see the parallels to our current world whereby the Internet has become a critical -- some may even say most important -- part of our economic and communication infrastructure, similar not only to our highway transportation network but also our telecommunications network that spans the country. Neither of these two networks were left to the whims of states, local communities or private enterprise.
Eisenhower noted four key reasons why Congress needed to get onboard with his highway plan. He knew that failure to move ahead with his initiative would mean another half century before the highway network reached any level of reasonable efficiency or connectivity.  I've boiled those four down to illustrate two reasons for today's need to push for universal high-speed Internet access on a national scale. If we don't we'll continue to experience:
  • Growing economic loss due to a fractured system and inequitable access by communities, schools and students.
  • Inability to keep pace with future technological growth and change, with their ultimate impact on communications, demand for access, and college/career readiness.
In the June 2006 issue of American History, Logan Thomas Snyder noted that:(T)he interstate system, more than any other project in the past 50 years, has encouraged an unprecedented democratization of mobility. It has opened up access to an array of goods and services previously unavailable to many and created massive opportunities for five decades and three generations of Americans. It has made the country more accessible to itself while also making it safer and more secure, outcomes that in almost any other undertaking would prove mutually exclusive. ‘More than any single action by the government since the end of the war, this one would change the face of America,’ Eisenhower wrote in 1963. ‘Its impact on the American economy — the jobs it would produce in manufacturing and construction, the rural areas it would open up — was beyond calculation.’ The clarity of his vision and the resiliency of his words are inarguable. The Eisenhower Interstate System has grown to be valuable beyond its original intent and is a lasting tribute to American ingenuity, ability and strength of purpose. I believe it's time for a national effort replicating Eisenhower's vision by ensuring that by the end of President Obama's five-year ConnectEd plan, all schools and every community are fully connected to high-speed Internet with sufficient bandwidth to support access to a variety of technology tools by every student and their families. Only then will America move forward with Future Ready schools for every child.